Divorce can get ugly. Not only are husband and wives scrambling to obtain child custody and marital property, but many are giving vent to frustration and outright fury. As a result, many ugly allegations get made during divorce—allegations that are false but which can severely damage someone’s reputation.
If you are falsely accused of being abusive, then you must immediately swing into action. Find an experienced divorce attorney and begin building a case to show your innocence.
Abuse Allegations and Protective Orders
Many allegations of abuse are made when your spouse seeks a restraining order, also called an order of protection, as part of the divorce. This order prevents you from contacting or coming near your spouse. A protective order can seriously disrupt your life, making it hard to see your children. Some protective orders even force you out of the family home, even if you own it.
Because protective orders are civil, they have a low standard of proof. Your spouse only needs to prove abuse by a “preponderance of evidence,” meaning it is more likely than not that you have been abusive. This is much lower than the criminal law standard of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Building a Case to Show Your Innocence
With your attorney, you can quickly gather evidence that shows you are not abusive. First, read the protective order thoroughly. It should identify incidents of abusive behavior in some detail. Try to find evidence that disproves your spouse’s version of events:
- Witnesses who observed the encounter and did not see you behave abusively.
- Any texts, emails, or phone messages from your spouse explaining what really happened during the allegedly violent incident. Anything that shows she started the fight, such as an apology, is very helpful.
- Any evidence that shows your ex has a motivation to lie. For example, she might have told a friend that she is going to get back at you for cheating on her.
By collecting this evidence, you can convince a judge that the accusations are frivolous, overblown, or outright false.
A few words about sexual abuse allegations: these are particularly tough, especially given the age of your children. Typically, your children will need to be interviewed by a child psychologist or other expert, since young children are easily suggestible. If your ex lies enough, she can convince a child that sexual abuse happened when it really didn’t. Doctors will also need to check your child for physical signs of sexual abuse. These complicated cases often require a criminal defense attorney to protect your rights, since the prosecutor is more likely to bring charges in criminal court.
Making a Good Impression
Before a judge will enter a permanent order of protection, you should be given a chance to attend a hearing. Do your best to present a professional appearance. Dress neatly, carefully groom yourself, and be respectful of everyone you meet in the courtroom. Remember not to use vulgarity when testifying and always keep your tone of voice level. Any outburst will only convince the judge that you do have a violent disposition.
Accused of Abuse? Speak to a Saratoga County Child Custody Lawyer Today
At the Colwell Law Group, we represent people going through contentious divorces and have helped fight off many abuse allegations. To schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers, please contact us today.